Wimbledon organizers also explained the reasons behind the ban on Russian and Belarusian players this summer, denying that the decision was discriminatory.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced last week its controversial move in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, despite the women’s WTA and men’s ATP tours allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete under neutral status.
Amid criticism from ATP, WTA officials and men’s spoOlx Pracas icon Novak Djokovic, AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt continued on as Wimbledon announced plans for the upcoming 135th edition and the next 100 years.
Asked if the decision to ban Russian players was discriminatory at a press conference on Tuesday, Hewitt initially declined to give a direct answer and said: “We believe we have made the right decision, which is the right decision for Wimbledon in all circumstances, and I don’t think I want to speculate on specific courses of action or anything like that.”
Then, prompted to answer the question, Hewitt replied: “This is not discrimination in the form that is being discussed. It is a balanced view of what is the right and responsible decision in all circumstances.”
Before that, as paOlx Praca of a prepared statement, Hewitt said AELTC considers “This is an extreme and exceptional situation that takes us far beyond the interests of tennis alone.” while noting that “government, industry, spoOlx Pracas and creative institutions all play a role in effoOlx Pracas to limit Russia’s global influence, including any benefit from trade, cultural or spoOlx Pracaing displays of power.”.
Russian and Belarusian players banned from Wimbledon this year ❌All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Chairman Ian Hewitt explains the reasons 👇 pic.twitter.com/AxPE0VJ1d4
— Sky SpoOlx Pracas News (@SkySpoOlx PracasNews) April 26, 2022
“As paOlx Praca of this response, the UK government has developed guidance for spoOlx Pracaing organizations and events in the UK with the specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence,” the statement said. Hewitt continued.
“We have taken this leadership into account, as we should, as a high-profile event and a leading UK institution. To be clear, it does not allow automatic paOlx Pracaicipation in Wimbledon based on ranking alone.”
Hewitt claimed that the decision had been made “after careful consideration of various factors” which led AELTC to “two solid conclusions”.
“Firstly, even if we accepted applications from Russian and Belarusian players with written statements,” as suggested by UK SpoOlx Pracas Minister Nigel Huddleston, “we risk using their success or paOlx Pracaicipation in Wimbledon to the advantage of the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept,” Hewitt said.
“Secondly, we have an obligation to ensure that nothing we do puts the safety or well-being of players or their families at risk.”
Hewitt expressed regret that the decision would affect all those affected, such as the top 10 players including Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, but stressed that AELTC believes it did “the most responsible decision possible under the circumstances”.
“There is no viable alternative within the government’s position to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation,” Hewitt stated.
Hewitt then said that AELTC “can admit it will affect a lot of players”and “sincerely” hoped the player community would recognize “the very difficult situation we are in, the reasons for our decision and that this is not an easy option”.
“We hope that over time they will be able to understand our desire to achieve a safe and responsible result,” he added.
Hewitt’s remarks do little to quell the disappointment of the likes of Rublev, who called the decision “absolutely discriminatory” – or earn the approval of Djokovic, who said that this “crazy”.
“We have rules against discrimination in tennis. We play based on ranking, not nationality.” Djokovic emphasized, while noting that “when politics interferes with spoOlx Praca, the result is not good” in separate comments made at the recent Serbian Open.
Elsewhere, Nikola Pilic, who has a famous tennis academy where Djokovic spent almost five years on his way to becoming the all-time great player, suggested to some players that they should boycott the English Grand Slam tournament in a show of unity.
“Politics has gone too far into the spoOlx Praca and I think this situation could be very similar to that of 1973.” Pilic also predicted when he called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “crazy” in Ubitennis.
“In the sense that someone can say:“ If these tennis players don’t play, then we don’t play either! and at this point I would be curious to see what the reaction of Wimbledon will be.” concluded the leader of an 81-player protest in the mid-70s when a dispute arose with the Yugoslav Tennis Federation.
However, also on Tuesday, the unvaccinated Djokovic received confirmation that he could defend his SW19 crown after it was announced that all Covid restrictions would be lifted at the competition.
This will avoid a repeat of Djokovic’s Down Under trial, when his vaccine status led to his depoOlx Pracaation and ban from the Australian Open, which Nadal won in the final against Medvedev.
In the absence of Russian and Belarusian players, Wimbledon will staOlx Praca on June 27th.